Over the years, I became weary of spats and arguments. No church is exempt from them, and no single person within those spats is perfect. However, I have grown to accept this, and try my best to get along with everyone to the best of my ability. I have not achieved this, simply because I am human. Some people just know how to rock your boat or twist your melon, some make an art out of it.
I have beside me here on my desk a DVD that I’m about to lend to a good friend who has become disillusioned with church. It’s a great preacher whose closing address at the Elim Bible Week was about the church and how it is just the only way we are ordained to have fellowship and worship together. One great illustration he made was from Noah’s Ark, which is a good ‘type’ of the church and of Jesus. We can be sure, with all those animals on the ark for 40 days (more than that since it took time for the waters to subside), that it was a stink! Well, at the time, it was ‘stink or sink’, and you know what, the church is the same; it stinks! Because it’s made up of you and me! And we are not perfect. Voilà!
I’ve said this before: we have a condition in this country which has arisen out of the success of the Christian church, in that we are able to decide to move to another church as and when we see fit, and for some this is an ongoing “I don’t agree with that, I’m off!” attitude. Now sometimes such moves are necessary, if there is something particularly rank (biblically or in church conduct) that you find impossible to reconcile, or if you are sure of a ‘call’ from God to move to a different church.
[Discerning the ‘call’ of God is another topic entirely, which I shall avoid for now (and maybe forever!)]
Someone who has constantly moved around churches like a vagabond has issues they need to deal with! I shall venture that their underlying problem is one of maturity, and this is what I have seen so often, and it is this that frustrates the hell out of me! Faults, differing opinions, disagreements, etc. are a part of life, both in and outside the church: dealing with them requires a mature attitude. Regardless of whatever happens, how each one of us deal with or react to such things is down to each one of us!
One of the prime causes of disagreements is change in a church, and it’s all to do with ‘comfort zones’ since none of us like to change from what is comfortable to us (or even just familiar, whether good or bad – a well-documented psychological phenomenon). Comfort zones are for babies! Once we get out of our cot, leave our mother’s breast milk behind and start trying to walk, we may fall down occasionally and bruise our knees and our heads, but we quickly learn that this is the way forward. It’s life.
A friend of mine knows a church historian who reassures him that when our predecessors were trying to introduce church organs, they were met with resistance and hostility! Try now to remove the organ from some churches, just for a laugh!
The person who is unwilling to accept change is being immature. Likewise, the person who thinks that change should just happen and nobody should raise concerns is being immature. There may well be genuine points to an argument against a change, but without a mature discussion of it, and a mature acceptance of other points of view – we all need a little bit of Romans 14 – we get nowhere. Acceptance is a key issue I am discovering for my book on contentment, too.
I fully understand that young people, or people young in the faith, have yet to learn these things and grow. I pray that their path to maturity is level and unstrewn with hazards. Then again, getting around the hazards is all part of the process! If you want to grow, deal with them!
Those with more years to their lives, physical and/or spiritual, really should be more mature. Some are so stuck in their ways, it might be a miracle for them to grow up now!
Praise God, I believe in miracles!
Grace be with you.